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News Agency of Nigeria

NGO trains women-based CSOs on legislative advocacy

WACOL, has trained CSOs engaging legislatures to pass bills that will affect women’s development and follow-up on implementation.

By Justina Auta

An NGO, Women Aid Collective (WACOL), has trained Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)
on engaging legislatures to pass bills that will affect women’s development and follow-up on implementation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day training was in collaboration with UN Women, under the Spotlight Initiative project.

Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the UN to eliminate all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) around the globe.

Prof. Joy Ezeilo, the Founding Director of WACOL and former UN Special Reporteur on trafficking in persons, said the spike in VAWG during the lockdown that followed the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) had affected the entire globe.

Ezeilo, an international human rights lawyer, a scholar and activist, emphasised the need to strengthen and support CSOs on legislative engagements, treaty monitoring and shadow reporting for women’s rights, including ending VAWG in the country.

According to her, the lack of implementation of extant laws, as well as adequate laws and support services for victims and survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) has increased the cases of VAWG.

She said “the impunity at which the human rights of women and girls are violated calls for zero tolerance signal through accountability, and the best way to do accountability is through prosecution and sanction culprits.

“Women and girls based CSOs must understand the critical processes in legislative advocacy for women’s human rights and also international treaty obligations and their roles as civil society.”

She charged organisations to hold governments accountable through shadow reporting and monitoring of treaty implementation by all arms of government.

She also urged government to enact appropriate laws that would enhance gender equality and send signal of zero tolerance for VAWG, as well as encourage empowerment “so that women and girls can realise their full potential.

“Any violence that threatens the lives of women and girls is inhuman, degrading and it is the role of government to protect, respect extant laws, including the international laws and to remedy it if there is violation.

“We want an end to impunity and government should ensure that people who perpetrate violence are appropriately sanctioned in accordance with the law.”

Aisha Kaltungo, Director, Abuja Metropolitan Office, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said that under the international declaration of human rights, all human beings are equal but society has made a demarcation whereby some rights are ascribed to men and others to women.

Kaltungo explained that there were provisions in Nigerian laws that condemn any form of GBV, regretting that poor implementation further exposed
more women and girls to various forms of violence.

“VAWG has been going on in the society and it is entrenched in the culture of silence, but right now, government, CSOs and human rights advocates are
pursuing advocacy for the elimination of the menace from the society.

“When there is a law against the act, it will go a long way to reduce the prevalence because there is this culture of impunity in the society where people feel
they can do anything and get away with it,” she said.

A participant and the Executive Director of Life Helpers Initiative, Tayo Fatinikun, stressed the need for government to implement existing laws that protect
the rights of women and girls.

Fatinikun described VAWG as “a big and terrible problem”, stressing that “if there were no enabling laws and policies, it would be difficult to achieve societal change.”

NAN reports that participants were drawn from Ebonyi, Cross River, Adamawa, Lagos, Sokoto and the FCT.(NAN)